Police, Fire, Courts

February 16, 2013

1 dead in 3-car crash in Beekmantown

BEEKMANTOWN — Two cars struck a pickup truck in a multi-casualty accident that killed John L. Phaneuf on Friday afternoon.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department said the Plattsburgh man, 70, who was headed west on Jersey Swamp Road, failed to stop his 2002 Ford F-150 pickup at the Military Turnpike intersection just after 1:30 p.m. 

As the red pickup passed the stop sign and entered the Turnpike, it was hit by a white 2012 Ford Fusion driven by Wai Kit Au, 48, of Kanata, Ontario, which was headed north on the Turnpike.

The truck was then struck by a white 2013 Nissan Altima driven south on the Turnpike by Jedediah Hoppe, 35, of Malone.


John Lawliss, 79, of Peru was driving northward when he saw three mangled vehicles.

“There was debris all over the road. It had just happened,” he said in a phone interview Friday night. “I pulled off the road, and I immediately called 911 because I could see it was a bad accident.”

Another man had stopped as well, Lawliss said.

“Apparently, he was some type of paramedic,” he said.

Together, they helped ease Phaneuf out of the truck, and Lawliss said the other man began performing cardiopulmonary respiration on him.

Lawliss also saw a woman sitting in the Altima.

“You could tell she was injured, and she was crying.”


Emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officials began arriving shortly afterwards, said Lawliss, who was a State Police trooper for 33 years.

“I’ve seen a lot of accidents. This was as bad as you want to see.”

Clinton County Coroner David Donah pronounced Phaneuf dead there.

The Beekmantown Fire Department, Morrisonville EMS and CVPH EMTs responded to the call, taking four others by ambulance to CVPH Medical Center, including a passenger in Phaneuf’s pickup, Richard Wray of Chazy; Hoppe and his passenger, Lisa Yando, 41, also of Malone; and Au.

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